Black Lives Matter sculpture replaces slave trader statue on plinth in Bristol

15 July 2020, 09:33

The statue of BLM protester Jen Reid on the plinth in Bristol
The statue of BLM protester Jen Reid on the plinth in Bristol. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

A sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester has been put up on the plinth in Bristol where the statue of slave trader Edward Colston used to stand.

Artist Marc Quinn created the black and resin steel piece of protester Jen Reid, who was photographed standing on the empty plinth after the Colston statue was toppled.

The sculpture, entitled A Surge of Power (Jen Reid), was erected in the early hours of today by the artist's team without the knowledge of Bristol City council.

Edward Colston statue replaced by sculpture of black protester

READ MORE: Slave trader statue toppled by protesters

Mayor Marvin Rees previously said any decision on how the plinth should be used would be decided democratically.

After the sculpture was installed, Mrs Reid stood in front of it with her fist in the air.

"It's just incredible," she told the Guardian.

"This is going to continue the conversation. I can't see it coming down in a hurry."

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol said: "My relentless commitment is to build a city for all Bristiolians, with all our differences.

Bristol residents have their say on statue of Black Lives Matter protester

Jen Reid stands next to the new statue in Bristol
Jen Reid stands next to the new statue in Bristol. Picture: PA

"To this end, the future of the plinth and what is installed on it must be decided by the people of Bristol.

"This will be critical to building a city that is home to those who are elated at the statue being pulled down, those who sympathise with its removal but are dismayed at how it happened and those who feel that in its removal, they've lost a piece of the Bristol they know and therefore themselves.

"We need change. In leading that change we have to find a pace that brings people with us. There is an African proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together. Our challenge is to take the city far. The art of building our city will be finding a way to live with our difference so that even where people do not get what they want, they know they live in a city that is their one and respects them.

"The sculpture that has been installed today was the work and decision of London based artist. It was not requested and permission was not given for it to be installed.

"We have set out a process to manage our journey. We have established a history commission which help us tell our full city history.

"As we learn this fuller history including the part played by black people, women, the working class, trade unions, and children among others, we will be in a better position to understand who we are, how we got here and who we wish to honour.

"Crucial to our heritage has been the harbour and the docks, manufacturing and industry, research and innovation, transport, slum clearances, housing, modern gentrification and faith.

"As the commission shares this information, the city will decide on city memorials and the future of the plinth."

On June 7, protesters used ropes to pull the Colston statue from its plinth in Bristol city centre.

It was thrown into Bristol Harbour near Pero's Bridge - named in honour of enslaved man Pero Jones who lived and died in the city.

On June 11 Bristol City Council retrieved the statue from the water and will display it in a museum along with placards from the Black Lives Matter protest.

The artist said the new sculpture has been installed in a way that made it "extremely difficult to move".